The CMH dealerships in Ballito and Durban have swapped dealer principals, with Vernon Subramoney moving to Durban and Stuart Singleton moving north to Ballito.
In Ballito, CMH sells Renault, Suzuki, Nissan and Mitsubishi while in Durban, the brands offered are Nissan, Citroën and Peugeot.
Singleton said the swap was mainly as a result of the CMH group moving into the new home of motoring on Moffatt Drive in Ballito and the fact that the north coast is a massive growth point and one of the biggest growth sectors in KZN. He believes that the opportunities here are endless as Ballito has become a major hub in the developing North Coast.
There are numerous large residential estates in the area as well as many smaller developments, so things are booming here, and Singleton and CMH want to be a part of it.
Subramoney said he has deep ties with Durban CMH, having worked at the dealership as a driver in 1997-1998. From driver, he was promoted to reconditioning clerk, then sales, then team leader and the rest is history, with Subramoney now heading up the business he entered at ground level.
He credits learning from good mentors, high goals for personal growth and ongoing training for his rise through the ranks.
He told Dealerfloor the buyers in Durban are completely different from those in Ballito. "We have a lot more walk-ins on used and new Nissans and have added Citroën and Peugeot to our offering. Introducing this 'French bouquet' to Durban buyers will be a major focus going forward, and we look forward to starting to generate brand awareness with peak caps sponsored by Absa," he said.
Asked if swapping dealerships in the CMH stable is a complicated handover, or more like siblings changing seats on the family couch, he said it is a bit of both but the process is grounded in communicating with the 70 staff members in Durban. "I always say people buy cars from people and ensuring that my people are happy leads to happy sales."
At Ballito, a development hot spot in South Africa before lockdown stalled property sales in 2021, Singleton looks forward to using all his expertise to sell vehicles to both the coastal town's lifestyle and construction markets. He said he looks forward to the impact the new Navara double cab and single cab will have on sales but added he and his sales staff will be almost as sad to retire that NP 300 workhorse bakkie as they were when Nissan built the last 1400 bakkie in 2008.
He agrees with Subramoney that running an effective dealership starts with looking after staff. In an interview with KZN Top Businesses, he was quoted as saying: "The better I look after my staff, the better they will look after our clients."
Regardingprospects for the new multi-franchise dealership, Singleton was cautious. “Like most businesses, we are still in recovery mode and taking things day by day. But before level 4 lockdown, I was very happy to be stuck in school traffic. With people driving a lot less, the entire car trade was affected in every area, from new car sales to servicing to panel beating. More people on the roads will speed up the recovery of all sectors in the auto trade,” said Singleton.
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) kept the wheels rolling this year with the opening of five new dealerships in four provinces.
The latest addition to the Stellantis dealer network is a large, new Super Group multi-franchise facility in Jacaranda Street, Hennopspark, Centurion, for Jeep, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Citroën.
We can overcome all the hurdles placed in front of us if we recognise our biggest asset in business is our people, says Rob Downs the Dealer Principal at CMH Nissan and Mitsubishi Pinetown.